I know. You're trying everything possible to create a believable relationship on stage or in front of the camera, but the Director keeps saying, "I just don't believe your relationship." Or, "I'm not getting a sense of any history or intimacy between the two of you." Or, "You're supposed to have already slept together, but I'm not getting the sense that you've crossed that line yet." So what do you do? How do you create history? How do you create that sense of intimacy, or any kind of relationship for that matter, without calling attention to the fact that you are doing something consciously?


Well, there are many ways to answer this question, but none more simple than when you use the "PICK THE LINT" craft technique. Let me explain by asking a few questions. And as you read them, picture yourself doing them and answer honestly.

  1. Do you have permission to pick lint off of a stranger's shirt?

  2. Is it OK for you to wipe an eyelash off the cheek of someone you just met?

  3. Is it acceptable for you to gently brush the hair behind a stranger's ear?

  4. Are you socially permitted to wipe crumbs off of a stranger's inner thigh?

  5. Is it OK for you to cool down a stranger's hot soup by blowing on it before feeding it to them?

  6. Is it acceptable to reach over with your fork and take food off of a stranger's plate?

  7. Do you have permission to lick your finger and then wipe dirt off of a stranger's face?

  8. Are you socially permitted to use your fingernail to pick food out of a stranger's teeth?

  9. Is it acceptable for you button an unbuttoned button on a stranger's shirt?

  10. Do you have permission to wipe the crust out of the corner of a stranger's eye?

The point here is that under normal circumstances, you do not have permission to cross a stranger's personal space boundary, but you do cross that personal space boundary with people you have history and relationships with. And depending upon the specifics of the history and relationship, you are permitted variations of these actions.

For example, my wife is permitted to do all of those actions above to me, but my Mother-in-Law is not. The point here is this...


So, if your Director is telling you that they do not believe your character has been intimate with the other character, instead of trying to create that relationship through some emotional gymnastics, simply say your lines and while your saying your lines, and not calling attention to it, just reach over and gently brush their hair behind their ear. Or wipe something off their lips. Or pick a piece of lint off of their shirt. And yes, the lint is imaginary. There is no real lint. You're picking nothing in reality, but the intention of you picking lint off the other person's shirt is what is important. And YES, you must also discuss this with the other actor to establish what their personal space boundaries are and what is comfortable for them. Under no circumstances should you ever cross a physical line you're not given permission to cross.

So, through specific, subtle (and even covert at times) behavior that society reocgnizes as socially acceptable only for people that have a relationship, history,and/or intimacy, can you very easily create in the audience - and in the Director - the belief that the relationship is authentic and true. But of course you can always go too far, so use this covert behavior tool with discretion. One time, I used it a bit too much during the rehearsal process of David Mamet's Speed-The-Plow. I was playing Charlie Fox (a Bucket List Role) and I was picking so much imaginary lint off the actor playing Bobby Gould that at one rehearsal, he brought me a gift. It was a Lint Roller. It was funny, but it was his way of telling me that maybe I should explore other behaviors throughout the show to help reveal the history between these two men. And he was right. Sometimes too much lint picking is a bad thing.

And of course, this technique can be called many other things besides just "Pick The Lint." You may want to refer to it as "Wipe The Crumbs" or "Brush The Hair" or "Taste The Food" or anything else that you come up with. So long as you're using specific behavior appropriate for the specific relationship, you can call it whatever you want and you'll have amazing results.

I hope this post has inspired you in some small way. I look forward to reading your comments.

Bye for now,

See you inside the Toolbox.

Email: actorsapproachtoolbox@gmail.com

Website: www.actorsapproach.com

Linktree: https://linktr.ee/actorsapproachcrafttoolbox

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